With a star-studded batting line-up, Tamil Nadu seem to have an edge over Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy group B match beginning at MAC Stadium on Thursday.
Both teams had light practice sessions on Wednesday. Tamil Nadu’s top-order batsmen had short stints at the nets. Coach WV Raman keenly watched medium pacers Aswin Christ and J Kaushik. For Saurashtra, it was a regular session. Cheteshwar Pujara had a short outing when he in particular practised playing on the front foot through the cover region.
In order to go for full points, Tamil Nadu have opted for a pitch with a considerable amount of grass on it. It will help the seamers initially and as the game progresses, spinners too might find some purchase.
“The pitch has some grass on it. I have never seen grass on a Chennai pitch. It will help the bowlers at the start,” said Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Shah, adding that left-arm quick Jaydev Unadkat will join the side before the match.
Tamil Nadu’s strength is batting and they are a formidable side at home. Although they did not play to potential in the last game against Uttar Pradesh, skipper L Balaji believes his side will bounce back against Saurashtra.
“It’s one of the best batting line-ups in the country. I’d always bank on our batsmen. It’s a matter of time before they come out and express themselves. We need to put a good score on the board,” said Balaji.
M Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, S Badrinath, Dinesh Karthik, R Prasanna and B Aparajith make Tamil Nadu a strong batting unit. Although Vijay and Abhinav have been inconsistent and Badrinath and Karthik are yet to play to true potential, Aparajith is in great form. For Vijay, this game is vital in the sense that it gives him one last chance to put some runs against his name before leaving for South Africa.
Balaji, Christ, Malolan Rangarajan and R Aushik Srinivas will form the attack. Kaushik, who can be a nippy customer, is likely to replace the injured Sunil Sam.
The visitors are depending heavily on Pujara, although they have a few others in Shah, Sheldon Jackson and Aarpit Vasavada, who can chip in with handy runs.
“The going has been good. We have done well in home matches and haven’t lost any of our away matches. Our batsmen have been consistent,” said Shah, who scored a hundred against Bengal in the previous match.
Saurashtra are second in the group with 12 points from four matches. Tamil Nadu are sixth with seven from three. They took first innings lead in the first two games before conceding lead to Uttar Pradesh in the last match.